Mid-March 2020 Update: Heart of Dinner (formerly Table to Table NYC) was an idea conceived the first week of March 2020 before mandates were put in place. To flatten the curve, we've postponed our upcoming food tours and will resume when it's deemed safe for public health.
The tours aimed to combat xenophobia and racism by mobilizing our collective platforms to bring awareness to Asian-owned restaurants and stimulating a resurgence of interest in supporting the mom-and-pop shops.
In the meantime, we've turned Heart of Dinner into a relief efforts hub where we are cooking hot lunchbox donations for those most vulnerable in/near the Chinatown area with a heavy focus on the homebound elderly. We are especially reminded of our immigrant grandparents who would have had difficulty asking for help during these times because of language and cultural barriers. We also provide meals for the staff of organizations and facilities who have dedicated their efforts to providing support for the residents and neighbors in densely populated Asian communities like Chinatown.
Heart of Dinner was born out of a need to work against stigma and discrimination towards people of Asian descent that have come hand-in-hand with the coronavirus. The mission is to normalize positive Asian narratives through intimate food outings that humanize our experiences and stories over a shared love of food. The upcoming outings around NYC's Chinatown are led by Moonlynn Tsai (restaurateur and co-owner of Kopitiam) and Yin Chang (actor and founder of 88 Cups of Tea), and co-hosted alongside a rotating group of food industry friends.
Asian-owned mom-and-pop shops have been one of the first small businesses to suffer destructive financial losses of up to 80% due to the resurgence of age-old racial stereotyping that grew as quickly as news of the coronavirus spreading. The crippling impact on their livelihoods resonates deeply with the couple, reminding them that they could’ve easily been in the same position, or their own friends, parents, aunties, uncles, and even grandparents.
Growing up in the food industry, Moonlynn lived through the consequences of rumors spun from racial biases when her family-owned restaurants suffered detrimental losses with one restaurant shuttering during the SARS epidemic. The effects were long-lasting and never fully recovered from the harsh financial blows. Yin dealt with racial bullying early on in childhood and would frequent the bustling cities of Flushing and Chinatown for the food and familiarity that brought comfort she couldn’t find elsewhere.
What initially started as late-night conversations sharing concern over the global impact of the virus and those affected led to wondering about the different ways people can lean into their humanity and show empathy for each other, especially for fellow Asian sisters and brothers who’ve been othered or harassed because of misinformation around the virus. This turned into spontaneous surveying of food-professional friends who might be interested in gathering for casual outings in and around Chinatown to show solidarity and support for local restaurants. It's now quickly evolved into a large group of people who want to proactively counter misinformation and dispel anti-Asian discrimination by co-hosting upcoming 3-hour food outings in Chinatown.
Please read below for the Chinese version:
Heart of Dinner ”的成立是為了消除因新型冠狀病毒對於亞洲地區的污名化以及所引起的歧視。我們希望通過分享食物之愛和故事來常態化亞洲人對於飲食的經歷和故事。
2020三月中訊息：Heart of Dinner 是在2020年紐約因新型冠狀病毒定下規定以前發起的。為了防治病毒的傳播, 我們暫緩了已計畫好的飲食交流，直至政府認為對公共健康安全時才會恢復。如有興趣了解更多我們的宗旨和使命，請查閱下方以及關注我們的Instagram。我們希望透過與精心挑選的飲食團合作以及動員我們的集體社交平台來喚醒大眾對於亞裔小型企業的關注和興趣, 同時也希望可以減除歧視。
同時，Heart of Dinner 的當前急務是透過提供新益熱煮的飯盒幫助在唐人街附近受新型冠狀病毒影響的弱勢群體；特別是最受影響的高齡獨居長者。看見受到疫情影響的長者使我們想起自己已移民的祖父母。他們會因語言和文化差異而妨礙他們徵求協助。我們也會致力為人口稠密的亞洲社區（如唐人街）的居民及服務亞裔機構的全體員工提供免費餐飲。如有提議或有意捐款或直接資助所用的食材，請透過 Venmo（用戶名: @yin-chang）並標記#lovingchinatown 捐款。
“Heart of Dinner: Loving Chinatown”的建立是為了消除因新型冠狀病毒對於亞洲人所引起的歧視。我們要希望透過美食交流，讓大眾共享亞洲人的美食經歷和故事。而紐約市唐人街將會由 Moonlynn Tsai (餐館 Kopitiam 創辦人) 、Yin Chang（演員和88 Cups of Tea 創辦人）和她們各位飲食好友同步帶領。
Moonlynn 從小在飲食行業長大，她經歷過SARS引起的種族偏見帶來的和謠傳和影響，見證許多餐館因而蒙受了不利的損失，而她家族所經營的餐館亦未能在這嚴峻的經濟打擊恢復正常，最終看著自己家族企業因為別人對亞洲人的偏見而結業。而 Yin 也經歷過相同的童年回憶，受過種族歧視的欺負對待。為了尋找安全感，Yin常常都會去FLUSHING和唐人街找尋家的味道，從中獲得溫暖和安慰。